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Golan Heights

Golan Heights, strategic upland region (2003 est. pop. 10,500), c.500 sq mi (1,250 sq km), SW Syria. It borders S Lebanon, NE Israel, and NW Jordan. It takes its name from the ancient city of Golan and was known as Gaulanitis in New Testament times. It is a rocky plateau overlooking Israel where elevations range from c.6,500 ft (2,000 m) in the north to below sea level along the Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberias) and the Yarmuk River in the south. The Golan Heights were fortified and used for artillery attacks on Israel after 1948. The region was captured by Israel during the Six-Day War in 1967 (see Arab-Israeli Wars) and formally annexed by Israel in 1981, an act that was not internationally recognized. A number of Israeli settlements have been established in the area; the region has become an important source of water for Israel. Ultimate control of the Golan Heights has been a stumbling block to Israeli-Syrian peace talks.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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